Abu Dhabi Hyperloop transport study advances

23 January 2017

Feasibility study to be completed in May

Hyperloop Transport Technologies (TT) has submitted to the Abu Dhabi Municipal Affairs and Transport (DMAT) the initial findings of the six-month study it is conducting for the proposed Hyperloop network to link Abu Dhabi and the Al-Ain municipality.

The work, which includes route analysis, cost estimates, land rights and a development schedule, is to be completed in May 2017.

The construction of the proposed Hyperloop network could begin shortly after the study is completed and if the findings lead both the DMAT and the Federal Transport Authority (FTA) to release a permission to build the network, according to Bibop Gresta, chairman of Hyperloop TT.

UK-based Atkins is providing Hyperloop TT with consultancy support for the project. “The study being undertaken by our engineers and DMAT is very comprehensive and is probably the most complete… it covers [the project’s] economic, sustainability and social impacts,” Gresta said.

Once a permission to build is issued, the construction period could take about 38 months and with the project estimated to cost about $40m for every kilometre, according to Gresta.

The distance between Abu Dhabi city and Al-Ain is roughly 170-180 kilometres.

The funding and business models to be adopted for the project are still unclear and are part of the ongoing study.

It is likely that a public-private partnership (PPP) model will be utilised in line with the advocacy being promoted by Hyperloop TT, which prides itself of being “the world’s largest crowd-sourced startup.”

Gresta is confident it could attract corporate and individual investors to fund the project. “Unlike traditional rail projects that rely primarily on state or government subsidies, the project we are proposing will offer a return on investments within eight to 10 years,” he said.

The forecast is based on the ability of the pods to levitate without energy, unlike in traditional rail systems where the rolling stock runs on electrical signals, and the Hyperloop system’s capability to generate more power than the system can consume through the capture and efficient use of solar and other forms of renewable energies. “The pods themselves will generate energy… we see the system being able to generate 30 per cent more power than it needs,” Gresta said, adding that any surplus energy will be fed into the Abu Dhabi electricity grid.

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